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Dig Deeper: Award-Winning Children’s Author Beverly Cleary

Cleary at her home in Carmel Valley, CA. Photo By Christina Koci Hernandez/San Francisco Chronicle by Getty Images.

Disappointed with the children’s books she read growing up, Beverly Cleary was determined to tell stories kids could relate to. ”I wanted to read funny stories about the sort of children I knew,” she wrote, ”and I decided that someday when I grew up I would write them.” Never speaking down to children, she wrote through their eyes, creating ordinary and relatable tales in worlds that mirrored their own. Beloved by many generations, Cleary’s books sold more than 85 million copies according to HarperCollins.

Cleary was born Beverly Atlee Bunn on April 12, 1916, in McMinnville, Ore. She attended Chaffey Junior College in Ontario, Calif., for two years before enrolling at the University of California, Berkeley. After graduating Berkeley in 1938, she enrolled at the University of Washington’s school of librarianship. She worked as a children’s librarian in Yakima, Wash., until moving to San Francisco with her husband, Clarence Cleary, whom she met while attending Berkeley. Cleary worked as a librarian at Camp John T. Knight in Oakland, while her husband was stationed at the army base. It was there that Cleary began telling stores—classic fairy tales and her own work—which ultimately led to her first book, Henry Huggins (1950). The book, which led to five sequels, detailed the bond between third grader Henry Huggins and his skinny dog named Ribsy.

One of Cleary’s most beloved characters, Ramona Quimby, first appeared in the Henry Huggins series as the younger sister of Henry’s friend Beatrice, better known as Beezus. While the initial book on the sisters, Beezus and Ramona (1955), was told from Beezus’ point of view, the subsequent ten novels on the sisters focused on Ramona’s perspective. Cleary penned Ramona as the annoying younger sister of Beezus, but her traits encompassed that of a strong female character and children were immediately drawn to her. As Monica Hesse wrote in The Washington Post, “In 1950, when Ramona made her first appearance, [her traits] were trailblazing. Cleary took every attribute that girls were then warned away from—bossiness, brashness, hot temper—and she tucked them all into one character. And then she made that character into an inspiration.”

Cleary’s third book series featured a mouse named Ralph S. Mouse who sought adventures on his miniature motorcycle and had the ability to talk to humans (though seemingly only to children). The first novel, The Mouse and the Motorcycle (1965) led to two sequels. “I wanted to be Ralph, the mouse with the motorcycle,” David Levithan wrote in The New York Times. “Cleary was writing directly to the reader, showing that she knew us and what our lives and feelings were like. She helped me realize I didn’t need to change myself into a detective or a knight to have an adventure…the adventure would come to me as part of the life I knew.”

Cleary’s book series and standalone novels earned her numerous accolades from her readers and peers. Most notably, three of her works won The John Newbery Medal: Dear Mr. Henshaw in 1984, Ramona and Her Father in 1978 and Ramona Quimby, Age 8 in 1982. Awarded by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, the Newbery Medal is awarded to author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.

“I have stayed true to my own memories of childhood, which are not different in many ways from those of children today. Although their circumstances have changed, I don’t think children’s inner feelings have changed,” Cleary stated during a 2011 interview with The Atlantic. Passing away last month, just shy of her 105 birthday, Beverly Cleary helped to inspire a love of reading in many children. Her relatable characters will live on, especially during National “Drop Everything and Read” Day, which is celebrated on Cleary’s birthday, April 12. First referenced in Ramona Quimby, Age 8, “Drop Everything and Read” or D.E.A.R. time, is an annual celebration that encourages children and families to set aside time to read together.

I hope children will be happy with the books I’ve written, and go on to be readers all of their lives.”

View all of Cleary’s books here. For additional resources on Cleary, explore the links below:


Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Memorial Library. 

 

 


References:


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Dig Deeper: Ma Rainey and Billie Holiday

Two films featuring revolutionary singers were released just a few months apart—Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and The United States vs. Billie Holiday. Premiering on Netflix on Nov. 25, 2020, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, (named after Rainey’s song of the same name), is adopted from August Wilson’s Tony-Award winning play of the same name. The film depicts tensions amongst Rainey and her band as they come together to record a new album at a Chicago music studio in 1927.

The United States vs. Billie Holiday premiered on Hulu on Feb. 26, 2021. Based on Johann Hari’s novel Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, the film follows Holiday’s career as the Federal Department of Narcotics launches an undercover sting operation against the jazz singer.

Both films have received numerous accolades and nominations:

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom 

  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role—Viola Davis as Ma Rainey (2021 Academy Award Nominee)
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role—the late Chadwick Boseman as Levee Green (2021 Academy Award Nominee)
  • Best Achievement in Costume Design—Ann Roth (2021 Academy Award Nominee)
  • Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling—Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson (2021 Academy Award Nominee) 
  • Best Achievement in Production—Production Design: Mark Ricker; Set Decoration: Karen O’Hara and Diana Stoughton (2021 Academy Award Nominee) 
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture: Drama—the late Chadwick Boseman as Levee Green (2021 Golden Globe Winner, Posthumously)
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture: Drama—Viola Davis as Ma Rainey (2021 Golden Globe Nominee)

The United States vs. Billie Holiday 

  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role—Andra Day as Billie Holiday (2021 Academy Award Nominee)
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture: Drama—Andra Day as Billie Holiday (2021 Golden Globe Winner)
  • Best Original Song: Motion Picture—For song “Tigress & Tweed,” Raphael Saadiq: music/lyrics, Andra Day: music/lyrics (2021 Golden Globe Nominee) 

Rainey and Holiday were trailblazing singers: Rainey was famed “The Mother of the Blues” and Holiday had a major influence on jazz and swing genres. Dig deeper and explore the links below for additional information on the groundbreaking performers.

Ma Rainey Georgia Jazz Band pose for a studio group shot c 1924-25 with ‘Gabriel’, Albert Wynn, Dave Nelson, Ma Rainey, Ed Pollack and Thomas A Dorsey. (Photo by JP Jazz Archive/Redferns/Getty Images)

Ma Rainey 

Although records suggest that Rainey was born in Alabama in September 1882, Rainey stated she was born Gertrude Pridgett in Columbus, Georgia on April 26, 1886. “Known for her thunderous, moaning voice, sharp comic timing and compelling stage presence, Rainey was a pioneer of early blues music.”

Rainey began singing as a teenager, performing in a local Columbus stage show called “A Bunch of Blackberries.” She married fellow performer Will Rainey in 1904 and they began touring with the Rabbit’s Foot Company, billing themselves as “Ma and Pa Rainey.” After her marriage ended, Rainey established her own performance company, “Madame Gertrude Rainey and her Georgia Smart Sets.” Her band became one of the highest paid acts on tour.

Rainey wrote a third of her songs, and often sang about her bisexuality. “Angela Davis called Rainey’s 1928 song “Prove it on Me,” a precursor to the lesbian cultural movement of the 1970s.” In 1923 Rainey signed with Paramount Records and recorded nearly 100 records. She continued to tour, however by 1935 Paramount had gone bankrupt and her records were no longer distributed. She retired and worked as a theatre proprietor in Georgia until her death in 1939. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

 

Jazz singer Billie Holiday wears a large white flower in her hair for a performance in New York City. (© Bradley Smith/CORBIS)

Billie Holiday 

Holiday was born Eleanora Fagan Gough on April 7, 1915, in Philadelphia. Singing in her teens, Holiday began auditioning with pianists at jazz clubs in New York when she and her mother moved to the city in 1929. Borrowing her professional name from actress Billie Dove and her father Clarence Halliday, she “quickly became an active participant in what was then the most vibrant jazz scene in the country–as the Harlem Renaissance transitioned into the Swing Era.”

Producer John Hammond offered Holiday her first record deal and from 1935-1941 Holiday’s career skyrocketed—often collaborating with pianist Teddy Wilson and saxophonist Lester Young, who “famously christened her Lady Day.” In 1937, she joined Kansas City’s Count Basie Orchestra, whose shows were among the top billed performances of the time.

In the 1930’s, Holiday was at Café Society in Manhattan when she was introduced to the poem “Strange Fruit.” Written by Abel Meeropol, the poem details the horrific depiction of lynching in the Southern United States and in 1939 Holiday began signing the poem at her concerts. “Strange Fruit is ‘considered by scholars to be the first protest song of the Civil Rights era. The lyric was so controversial that Holiday’s record label wouldn’t record it, so she jumped over to the independent Commodore Records where she could record and sing as she pleased.'”

Holiday received multiple warnings from the Federal Bureau of Narcotics to stop singing “Strange Fruit,” though she never did. Henry Anslinger, the first commissioner of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Federal Bureau of Narcotics, exploited Holiday’s ongoing struggle with addiction to silence her. Holiday was arrested and convicted of narcotics possession in 1947 and sentenced to one year and a day in prison.

Upon release, Holiday had lost her cabaret card (no longer able to play in clubs that served alcohol), and began performing in concert halls. Still widely popular, she continued to tour and perform in the 1950’s though her substance abuse had taken its toll on her voice. She gave her final performance on May 25, 1959, in New York City. She passed away on July 17, 1959. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.


Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Memorial Library. 

 

 


 


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Women’s History Month: National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman

Image of Amanda Gorman provided by Kelia Anne (Sun Literary Arts) via AP.

Amanda Gorman is making history.

She became the youngest poet to perform at a presidential inauguration when she recited her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” at President Joe Biden’s Inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021. Born and raised in Los Angeles, the Harvard University graduate was named the first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate of the United States in 2017 by Urban Word. The youth poet laureate of Los Angeles, Gorman also became the first poet commissioned to write a poem for the Super Bowl, which she performed at Super Bowl LV on Feb. 2, 2021.

Celebrating Women’s History Month, dig deeper and explore these resources highlighting Poet Amanda Gorman.

Links:

Books:

Explore more Women’s History Month resources in this blog by Susan Turkel, Social Sciences Librarian, and this resource list by Merrill Stein, Political Science Librarian.

For help with your research, please contact the Gender and Women’s Studies Librarian Jutta Seibert.

Looking for poems by a particular author? Visit the English subject guide.


Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Memorial Library. 

 

 


 


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International Women’s Day 2021

By Merrill Stein

“… distinguished for insight into human nature, remarkable for independence and courageous self-assertion, devoted to the welfare of her race …”

The quote above, a possible aspiration for women as well as world leaders today, was part of Frederick Douglass’ 1883 eulogy for Sojourner Truth (Russell, D., Black Genius and the American Experience, rev. ed. 2009, p. 419). May it also be a reminder to give thought today to the many struggles and achievements of women world guides, leaders, and innovators. Expand awareness and gain inspiration from the assortment of links below.

Poster from Womens Liberation Workshop in London - Stevenson, Prudence (Wiki Commons)

Poster from Womens Liberation Workshop in London – Stevenson, Prudence (Wiki Commons)

UN Women is pleased to invite you to the United Nations’ observance of International Women’s Day 2021. The theme is “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world on the way to the Generation Equality Forum.” Here are some links to use as launching off points to learn more about women’s leadership and achievements:

Sample some motivating videos from Falvey Library’s Academic Video Online – AVON (Alexander Street Press) database. Not sure what to try, see poet Amanda Gorman as she prepares for election day or view videos relevant to Women’s History Month: Celebrating Artists Who Are Women.

Ready to dig deeper? Jump into our subject guides, which will lead you to even more curated resources!


Merrill Stein is Political Science Librarian at Falvey Memorial Library.

 

 

 


 


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Dig Deeper: Nobel Prize in Literature 2020 Recipient, Louise Glück

Art courtesy of Joanne Quinn, Director of Communication and Marketing

All Hallows

BY LOUISE GLÜCK
Even now this landscape is assembling.
The hills darken. The oxen
sleep in their blue yoke,
the fields having been
picked clean, the sheaves
bound evenly and piled at the roadside

among cinquefoil, as the toothed moon rises:

This is the barrenness
of harvest or pestilence.
And the wife leaning out the window
with her hand extended, as in payment,
and the seeds
distinct, gold, calling
Come here,
Come here, little one

And the soul creeps out of the tree.

The recipient of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature, American poet Louise Glück “examines our compulsion to tell the same stories, again and again.” As Walt Hunter wrote in The Atlantic,One of the most striking qualities about the poetry of Glück, is the way it returns to the start of things—a story, a myth, a day, a marriage, a childhood. The question How do we begin anew? runs throughout the poet’s work, from Firstborn (1968) to her most recent collection, Faithful and Virtuous Night (2014).”

Glück is the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize for writing poetry since the literature category was established in 1901. The author of 12 poetry collections and several essays, she has received numerous accolades for her work:

She was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 1999, was appointed as the Library of Congress’s twelfth poet laureate in 2003, and in 2015 received the National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama. Glück received the Nobel Prize for “her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal.” As Anders Olsson, Chairman of the Nobel Committee wrote, “In her poems, the self listens for what is left of its dreams and delusions, and nobody can be harder than she in confronting the illusions of the self. She seeks the universal, and in this she takes inspiration from myths and classical motifs, present in most of her works. The voices of Dido, Persephone and Eurydice–the abandoned, the punished, the betrayed–are masks for a self in transformation, as personal as it is universally valid.”

Glück was born in New York City in 1943 and was raised on Long Island. She attended Sarah Lawrence College and Columbia University. She is a professor of English, Rosenkranz Writer-in-Residence, at Yale University, and currently resides in Cambridge, Mass.

Learn more about Louise Glück:


Text by Kallie Stahl, Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Memorial Library. Links curated by Sarah Wingo, MA, MSI, the Liaison Librarian for English Lit, Theatre, and Romance Languages.


 


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Dig Deeper: Constitution Day

By Merrill Stein

Thursday, Sept. 17, is Constitution Day—celebrating the historic date in 1787 when the Constitutional Convention delegates signed the United States Constitution. Dig deeper and explore the resources below for a meaningful observance of the holiday.

Constitution related notes:

Dig deeper:


Merrill Stein is Political Science Librarian at Falvey Memorial Library.

 

 


 


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Dig Deeper: The 2020 Census

By Merrill Stein

Information about the U.S. Census can be obtained at https://2020census.gov. Beginning on March 12, 2020, you’ll be invited to respond to the 2020 Census. You can return to my2020census.gov to complete your questionnaire. To help you answer the census, the US Census Bureau provides translated web pages and guides in 59 non-English languages, including American Sign Language, as well as guides in braille and large print.

Be counted — Join the conversation!

  • By phone: Get assistance or respond by phone, starting March 9.
  • Online: Respond online at my2020census.gov, starting March 12.
  • By mail: Households will receive a paper questionnaire April 8–16.
  • At home: Census takers will visit households in person, beginning May 13.

What is the importance of census data? The 2020 Census will determine congressional representation, inform hundreds of billions in federal funding, and provide data that will impact communities for the next decade.

Shape your future, impact your community. The results of the 2020 Census will help determine how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding flow into communities every year for the next decade. That funding shapes many different aspects of every community, no matter the size, no matter the location.

Regional Census centers are available to help. Contact your regional census center to speak with U.S. Census Bureau staff in your area. Regional staff can help you verify the identity of a local census taker or connect you with your partnership specialist.

Want to dig deeper?


Merrill Stein is Political Science Librarian at Falvey Memorial Library.

 

 


 

 


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Dig Deeper: Rock Your Job Interview with These Resources

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By Linda Hauck

It’s career fair season, and Villanova’s Career Services is hosting its Spring Career Fair, Feb. 4 and 5. Remember to use Falvey’s resources to get yourself prepared for an interview with a potential employer and learn about career options!

If you’re interviewing for a functional job in an industry that you don’t know much about, it is always a good idea to get started by reading an industry report. Think of them like CliffsNotes guides to how businesses operate—except there is no shame in using them, because they are a staple for well-informed professionals. They describe the scope of the business and list suppliers, customers, competitive challenges, prospects, key competitors, the regulatory and technological environment, and trends.

In short, everything a curious prospective employee ought to know!

The industry reports offered by First Research even include a section called Executive Conversation Starters and Conversation Prep questions to spark dialog or, better yet, suggest topics to explore through news and social media before meeting. Similarly, IBISWorld iExpert Summaries list questions related to specific roles as well as internal/external impact. 

Of course, you will want to dig deeper and find out about the specific organization with which you’re interviewing. Company profiles that describe the scope of the business, provide some historical background, and list competitors and financial performance are a good place to start. MarketLine and D&B Hoovers cover medium to large organizations globally. Guidestar will do the same if you’re interviewing with a nonprofit.

Learn about more recent organizational developments by searching the news. Proquest Central provides good national coverage, whereas Philadelphia Business Journal (from American City Business Journals) offers more local news. Don’t forget use your New York Times and Wall Street Journal online subscriptions offered by the Library.

All of these databases can be found on the Falvey Career Information page, but don’t forget to explore the many online resources offered by the Career Center.

 


Linda Hauck, MLS, MBA, is the Business Librarian at Falvey Memorial Library.


 


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Dig Deeper: Jena Osman to Visit Falvey Nov. 1

Few and far between these days are the rare type of genius who have worked as a poet, a playwright, as the founder and editor of a journal, and as a professor of English. Jena Osman, who visits Falvey tonight, Nov. 1, at 6:00pm, fits this description perfectly.

Osman, who teaches in the creative writing program at Temple University, has also served as a fellow for the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Penn Humanities Forum, the MacDowell Colony, and the Howard Foundation. In the time since the staging of her play Face and Body in 1988, she has amassed an impressive corpus of published works, including four collections of poetry.

Jena Osman sits for a photograph.

Here are some of the resources available on and by Osman through Falvey’s databases:


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Dig Deeper: Literary Sensation Brit Bennett to Visit Falvey

As a part of the Villanova University Literary Festival, co-sponsored by the English Department, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Falvey Memorial Library (among a slew of other departments), Brit Bennett will visit Speakers’ Corner on Tuesday, Feb. 14 at 7 p.m., providing you the perfect opportunity to bring your bae to a romantic evening of intellectual discussion and fiction reading.

The traditional “Dig Deeper” post includes a number of the author’s primary texts and a few scholarly articles for thinking through the author’s work. Bennett, however, as a new author presents a series of difficulties as far as building this kind of post goes.

Brit_BennettBrit Bennett poses for a photo.

First, her work is so new that scholars haven’t yet incorporated it into their theoretical pieces. Second, Bennett is very forthcoming about the aims and intentions of her work, especially so in her essays titled “I Don’t Know What to Do with Good White People” and “Ripping the Veil,” which means I can’t provide you with philosophical musings for thinking through what she might mean.

The novel itself ­– The Mothers – uses a fresh and much needed narrative voice to depict the black, middle-class life of its characters. According to an interview with Fusion, The Mothers took Bennett a long period of writing and re-writing to complete, and it mirrors her own life so far in a few crucial ways. Without spoiling anything too much, you should know that it’s available through interlibrary loan currently, and will arrive in the Falvey’s collection in the coming weeks.

Bennett herself was born and raised in southern California. She attended Stanford University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English. From there, she moved east to earn her MFA in fiction at the University of Michigan.

As a graduate student myself, I can tell you that the jump from graduate school success to gracing the pages of Vogue, Essence and the New York Times must have been one shocking journey. It all begins, however, with engagement.

Brit Bennett NYTBrit Bennett, as featured in The New York Times.

Bennett took a topic important to her – racial issues in America – and set herself to writing the most informed pieces about that topic. So far she has produced the “Good White People” piece from above and The Mothers (as well as a piece in The New Yorker praising the work of Ta-Nehisi Coates).

All of these pieces weave a fine strand through the young career of one of the literary world’s up-and-coming stars. Bennett’s central concern is the resolution of some of the racial issues plaguing 21st-century America. Here are a few links for you to dig deeper into the fields of race and trauma theory, curated by our English & Theatre Librarian, Sarah Wingo:

 


Website photo 2 Article by William Repetto, a graduate assistant on the Communications and Marketing Team at the Falvey Memorial Library. He is currently pursuing an MA in English at Villanova University.

 

 


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Last Modified: February 14, 2017